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How Much Water Could California Save?

Almonds and other crops are sucking up California’s water supply. Even nuttier: The state’s inefficient farming methods.

California’s in the middle of its most significant drought in half a millennia. According to Jay Famiglietti, senior water cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Golden State’s reservoirs contain only a one-year supply* of water. If California continues to be caught in this drought through 2016, America (and much of the world) might be a whole lot hungrier. By many calculations, 80 percent of California’s developed water supply is dedicated to agricultural needs. The state’s vast and historically fertile lands, particularly in the Central Valley, have made it the nation’s number one producer of countless desirable crops: walnuts, strawberries, avocados, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, grapes, lettuce, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, artichokes…

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Almonds Are Sucking California Dry

Evidence mounts in the environmental case against these delicious, nutritious nuts

Photo via Flickr user Harsha K R

Say you live in California, which is now going through the worst drought in history, and you’re a good citizen. So you’re taking shorter showers, teaching the kids about conservation, and giving your neighbors the appropriate dirty looks for sprinkler use. You are doing all the right things and sometimes to reward yourself you have a nutritious handful of delicious almonds.

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Your Nuts Are Making California a Squalid "Bee Bordello"

How our appetite for industrial-farmed almonds creates an orgy of sickly, exhausted bees. And why that's a really bad thing

In February and early March, millions of bees make a forced nighttime migration to California’s Central Valley, where they gorge themselves on nectar and spread the sexual dust of almond blossoms between trees. It’s necessary for the lucrative almond crop. And bees from all over—from Maine and Florida—converge in one place for the first big orgiastic feast of the season. Michael Pollan dubbed it a “bee bordello.” When sick or exhausted bees travel they accelerate the risk of spreading mites and viruses like apiary STDs in the stressful, epidemiological risky squalor of large-scale farming.

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